Making Wayland accessible

Matthias Clasen matthias.clasen at
Tue Oct 15 22:05:24 CEST 2013

As part of the ongoing GNOME Wayland porting effort, the GNOME
accessibility (a11y) team has been looking into what it would take to make
our existing a11y tools (ATs) and infrastructure work under Wayland.

Most a11y features will probably end up being implemented in the

- input tweaks like slow keys or bounce keys or hover-to-click naturally
fit in the event dispatching in the compositor

- display changes like zoom or color adjustments are already handled in
gnome-shell under X

- the text protocol should be sufficient to make on-screen keyboards and
similar tools  work

The remaining AT of concern is orca, our screen reader, which does not
easily fit into the compositor. Here are some examples of the kinds of
things orca needs to do to support its users:

- Identify the surface that is currently under the pointer (and the
corresponding application that is registered as an accessible client)

- Warp the pointer to a certain position (see for a description of how
this is used)

- Filter out certain key events and use them for navigation purposes. This
is currently done by capturing key events client-side and sending them out
again via at-spi, which will probably continue to work, even if it is
awkward and toolkit authors would really like to get rid of it

All of these features violate the careful separation between clients that
Wayland maintains, so that probably calls for some privileged interface for
ATs. I would appreciate feedback and discussion on this.

Has anybody else thought about these problems already ?

Are there better ways to do these things under Wayland ?

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